The Weekly Standard Blog May 21, 2012
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz last December called for promoting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including the Saudi kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman, into a unified body, which has been described as a “super-state.” The Saudis and the other GCC members are currently engaged in discussions intended to bring closer coordination, if not fusion, within the council.
Regional ambitions by Shia Iran and the chaos in Syria are the main stimuli for such an enhanced Gulf relationship and possible complete unification. All six GCC members except Oman, the largest aside from Saudi Arabia, are ruled in the name of Sunni Islam. Oman is unique in following Ibadhi Islam, an interpretation that is distinct from Sunnism and Shiism.
Syrian aggression has spread intermittently across the border into Lebanon, with Syrian irregular militia accused of kidnapping Shia inhabitants of the neighboring state, and Syrian military reported shooting over the frontier, killing several people. Armed conflict has reappeared in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Forty Syrian Sunnis allegedly have been kidnapped as a reprisal for the abduction of three Lebanese Shias. The UAE recalled its ambassador from Iran last month when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the Gulf island of Abu Musa, claimed by Iran and the Emirates. Saudi authorities have repressed the Shia minority among their citizens, as the Sunni sovereigns of Bahrain have their Shia majority, and Sunni dominance in Bahrain has been enforced by the Saudi-led GCC occupation forces. Abuses against Shias in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have fed Iranian propaganda around the world.